It would be hard to argue with him after his terrific trio of Jake Poyner, Ellis Coon and Robert Murphy decked the rest of the Northern Lakes Conference on Saturday at Ox Bow Park.
The heavyweight “Three Amigos” of the No. 6 Tigers made it as simple as 1-2-3 Saturday to lead the Tigers to the NLC championship.
The three standouts crossed the finish line in 1-2-3 as in Coon, Murphy and Poyner as Warsaw claimed the NLC Meet victory to go with the regular-season league title.
Junior Coon won the race with a strong kick in 15:56. Seniors Murphy and Poyner were right behind in 15:58 and 16:01 respectively as Warsaw won the team title with a score of 29. No. 13 Northridge placed second with a team score of 36.
“They showed up to run today,” said Mills of his trio. “It’s like oh my gosh to some people that Jake got beat, but we have three All-State runners. All three of them are so good and yet three totally different personalities. Jake is the meticulous one, Robert is always where he needs to be and Ellis is one of the most fiery competitors I’ve ever coached. With the finish line in sight, I would bet on Ellis to win 100 percent of the time. He sees blood.
“It’s gratifying to win. All the credit goes to the guys. Great runners like we have make coaches look good. All of them deserve the credit. But, we still need to find a No. 5 runner. We have to reach down and get the job done there. Michael Compton ran great today in the reserve race for us, so he might be that guy we need.”
Warsaw, after placing 15th at State in 2011, has its eyes on at least a top five finish this time around.Coon won as an individual for just the third time. He also took top honors in the Tiger Invitational and versus Wawasee earlier this season.
“The thing is that we wanted to clinch the title and have people know that Warsaw was here today and we meant business,” said Coon. “It’s exciting that we ran well today. It’s really special to win it. This is such a strong conference.
“It all fell together for me today. Before the race, Jake said we should surge after the first mile and it worked well. It was a good idea by him. The individual title is a surprise to me and a nice little bonus. All three of us are capable of winning this. Jake and Robert are amazing. It’s special to be a part of a team with them and I feel extremely blessed to get to run with such great guys.”
Senior Brysten James continued to run strong as he placed eighth overall in 16:36 to give the Tigers four runners in the top 10.
Northridge, which just lost to Warsaw in NLC head-to-head action Tuesday, placed fourth, fifth and sixth. Junior Blake O’Dell was fourth in 16:04, with sophomore James Bradberry in fifth in 16:12 and senior Jacob Frost in sixth in 16:27.
Wawasee ended up fourth in the final eight-team standings with a score of 95. Reid Stichter was the top finisher for the Warriors with a ninth-place finish in a time of 16:41.Teams now prepare for the state tournament series which begins with sectionals on Oct. 9
Team Scores: Warsaw 29, Northridge 36, Goshen 74, Wawasee 95, Concord 159, NorthWood 165, Plymouth 219, Elkhart Memorial 220.
Final Overall NLC Standings: Warsaw, Northridge, Goshen, Wawasee, Concord, NorthWood, Elkhart Memorial, Plymouth.
Top 15 Finishers
1. Ellis Coon (Warsaw) 15:56; 2. Robert Murphy (Warsaw) 15:58; 3. Jake Poyner (Warsaw) 16:01; 4. Blake O’Dell (Northridge) 16:04; 5. James Bradberry (Northridge) 16:12; 6. Jacob Frost (Northridge) 16:27; 7. Luke Kauffman (Goshen) 16:33; 8. Brysten James (Warsaw) 16:36; 9. Reid Stichter (Wawasee) 16:41; 10. Connor Sandt (Northridge) 16:53; 11. Neel Patel (Northridge) 16:53; 12. Adam Weeden (Goshen) 16:55; 13. Luke Riffell (Northridge) 16:56; 14. Reid Zimmerman (Goshen) 16:59; 15. Daniel Messenger (Warsaw) 17:03.
1. Ellis Coon 15:56; 2. Robert Murphy 15:58; 3. Jake Poyner 16:01; 8. Brysten James 16:36; 15. Daniel Messenger 17:03; 16. Owen Glogovsky 17:10; 33. Ismael Calderon 18:00.
9. Reid Stichter 16:41; 18. Adam Doll 17:13; 19. Zach Cockrill 17:14; 24. Joey Bornman 17:36; 25. Austin Yoder 17:36; 27. Austin Krizman 17:39; 29. Tony Carolus 17:46.